Limiting God

The phrase “limiting God” gets heavy use today among those looking for lee-way to believe the latest in religious theories. There is, however, an irony in the way many use “limiting God” in defending some doctrine about which the Bible reveals nothing. The line goes something like this: if you claim that God could not have done this or that, you are “limiting God.” Is that really “limiting God?” Let’s go to the scripture for that answer.

In Psalm 78, Asaph penned a panoramic view of the formation of God’s Old Testament people, from their escaping Egypt to their knocking on the door of the Promised Land. During the course of his historical reminiscing, he pointed out that some of his people were limiting God. He states: “Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel.” (Psalm 78:41). Who did this refer to and under what circumstances did this occur? In answering this question, we will discover who is actually guilty of “limiting God.”

The immediate context has reference to the children of Israel’s exodus from Egypt and their subsequent wandering in the wilderness, brought on by their rejection of God’s will to take the Promised Land as He instructed (Numbers 14:20ff). During that 40-year time-frame, their lack of faith in God’s way of doing things led to the rebellious Israelites “limiting God” by their constant, frequent and repetitive disobedience to God’s will (v. 22). This habitual rejection of Divine revelation once brought God to the brink of their total extinction, articulating the idea of destroying them completely and starting over (Exodus 32:9-10). That threat was basically realized with God’s rejection of the entire generation that perished in the wilderness (Numbers 14:34-35).

According to the Bible, then, someone is “limiting God” when they decide not to follow, adhere to and have faith in what God has revealed. One is not “limiting God” to defend what God said He did (what has been Divinely revealed) and reject what God could have done (unrevealed human speculation). That God could do something is not in question; He is omnipotent. What God said He did is where the faith of the righteous is found (cf. Deuteronomy 29:29; Romans 10:17). To argue from speculation and reject revelation is “limiting God.”

Jeff Sweeten